Thursday, July 30, 2009

Yesterday at the opshop...

...I found this good old-fashioned typewriter. When I can find someone from the 'typewriter age' to show me how to change the ribbon I want to try typing on fabric (perhaps with freezer paper ironed on to the back to stabilize it). If I can get this to work I can see all sorts of potential for small stitched artworks. If not, I will still enjoy using it on paper for making cards and gift tags.

I also found a birthday present for my brother, which I am rather excited about. (Doesn't info like this, so vague it says almost nothing, make you VERY curious?) Unfortunately its still four months till his birthday so he has a while to wait!

Simple squares

Despite forgetting lots of things lately, my brain has been put to good use, writing several articles and preparing a presentation. This was quite an achievement in my current state of mind! So this morning I enjoyed some light activity in the form of cutting out fabric squares for a quilt for Hannah. This is the first 'utilitarian' quilt I have done in a long time, and I am looking forward to the simplicity of it!

I just cleared the dinner table so I could lay out the squares as I would like them. Then I turned my back for a moment only to return and find Hannah with a puzzle laid out over half the table, so my plans are on hold right now - good chance for a blog post and some reading! (With Caleb marching through the house right now on a mission to make as much mess as possible, I can't use the floor, either.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Stitching and painting

Working on a set of three little quilts... I have used this technique of quilting and then painting on a few small quilts, and am amazed everytime again how long it takes to paint. It's relaxing work, though.
Now the quilts are awaiting further stitching. I am thinking of dense hand-quilting in the background. Yes, hand-quilting. I know that's a bit outside the square for me, but I think it will create a nice texture here, and I don't mind a bit of handwork for when I need to put my feet up!

Saturday, July 25, 2009


You wouldn't think it, but this little man has been the world's grumpiest baby for the last three days, due to a terrible cold, lack of sleep and new teeth coming through. Between him and I we have battled through the days, not getting a whole lot of anything done. Just when I was wondering how I was going to take any more, we were granted respite when he slept for a wonderful one and a half hours this morning - a chance to enjoy some sketching at leisure! This sketch is a little lopsided, but I enjoyed doing it anyway.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


We needed a photo of kids doing craft for something, hence this impromptu art project after school on Tuesday. Now they can't wait to turn their fabric drawings into quilts!

(Yes, I know I'm not so prompt about blogging this - I think my brain is still stuck on Monday or Tuesday. Last night I forgot to turn up at our church's girls Bible study meeting, after telling them all on Sunday that I would see them on Wednesday. I enjoy leading the meeting every second week, and feel awful about forgetting. Phil says I can blame the baby, but I still feel bad! If nothing else, a little warning bell is ringing that perhaps I have too many different things on the go right now. I am working on cutting that back by the end of the year!)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Rainy day

I love a rainy day spent indoors. Hope you are enjoying your Saturday too!

A little project I've been working on...

This small quilt was made for my mother-in-law's birthday (thanks to Dad for smuggling her childhood photos out of the house on Monday!) I enjoyed doing something a bit less planned than normal (usually I have a quilt design fully drawn out before I get started).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Team work

Photographing my quilts is always the final step before I can say 'this quilt is finished', and its a step for which I always require Phil's help. Our system for taking photos involves dragging a large white board out of the shed and leaning it against the outside wall of the shed - we get good lighting there! Using metal hooks we hook the quilt (via its rod) onto the board, giving a good background against which to take the photos. (It is important to have a plain, neutral background, with even lighting). And Phil always takes care of loose threads and fluff (he thinks I don't do a good enough job :)). Yesterday we got this done just before the rain set in, thankfully!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Dreaming of a design wall

Near the top of my wishlist for my studio in our new house is a design wall. I don't have one here, but one of my early quilts hanging in our living serves well enough for now, for pinning works in progress onto. Often pieced quilt tops get pinned here for several days while I decide whether I am happy with them.

This week it is being used for various design ideas. I have loads of ideas in my head and in various sketches but would like my quilts to work cohesively together (in the event of an exhibition down the track, but also just because I like it that way). This means I would like to work in series or have some other means of uniformity, and seeing the designs pinned up is helping me to sort out the various ideas with this in mind.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Discovered in the top of the cupboard...

My mum made this dollhouse for my birthday twenty-something years ago. Many happy hours were spent with it again this past weekend. Everything is handmade. The rooms can be shifted into various configurations, the furniture is made mostly of balsa wood, the dolls (modelled after our family at the time - Dad, Mum, myself, Hester and baby Arlene) and the kitchen crockery is made from fimo. I'm sure there used to be cutlery as well, but that seems to have disappeared over the years.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

More exploring

We enjoyed a slow hour-long stroll through Araluen this morning. Everything was nice and wet - definitely winter - but with promises of spring! We will have to come back when the bulbs are blooming, although I think I may enjoy the garden at this time of the year more...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Exploring and being inspired

Aaron calls it 'exploring', I call it 'gathering inspiration'. Either way, we all enjoy a wander through the garden, discovering and rediscovering beautiful things. Although I have thousands and thousands of 'inspiration' photos archived on CDs and DVDs, its always nice to take a fresh look at things, making new photos (which I refer to for sketching, and design ideas, as well as colours and shading).

Its school holidays and we have been enjoying the company of Grandma (my mum) for the last few days. For the next five days, though, there will only be three of us at home, so I am hoping to spend some time focussing on potential quilt concepts and designs.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Baby steps

I am happy with the beginning of my 'drawing habit'. It is already becoming an easier thing to do, and ideas are becoming firmer. Now to see if I can keep it up for a while!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

To make a habit of drawing...

There's something about being pregnant that makes me want to establish some firm goals - I suppose it's probably something to do with the idea that in a little over six months this household is going to be turned upside down for a while! In the past, my goals have included completing certain 'milestone' quilts, or holding my exhibition.

This time my goal doesn't relate to specific quilts or exhibitions. I am often frustrated that my drawing skills are so limiting. I have many ideas in my head which I really struggle to get onto paper in a visual form. Part of this struggle is not being confident with my drawing abilities. When it comes to drawing for and designing a new quilt, I spend a whole lot of time staring at a blank page, which seems wasteful to me.

So what I would like to work on in the next six months is to train myself to draw more easily (and hopefully, through this, to learn to draw better). I'm not initially concerned about the drawings being perfect, but more, that I learn to draw regularly, without sighing, or wasting time looking at an empty page! I hope that if I make drawing a habit, I will have a better supply of current sketches and ideas from which to work.

In my drawing, I am inspired by many children's book illustrators. Some favourites include Shirley Hughes (I love the way she captures everyday moments in such a warm way), Graeme Base (I love that there is always more to discover on a closer look) and Shaun Tan (I love his attention to detail, and use of collage-like techniques in some books).Two other books I am enjoying for their illustrations and graphic design are :"The Day I Swapped my Dad for Two Goldfish" and "Pink Piglet".

Thursday, July 2, 2009

If you visit us for coffee...

If you come for a coffee visit to our house, I can assure you that every effort will have been made to ensure there are not pins stuck into the couch or elsewhere, for unsuspecting bottoms and feet. (I am rather pleased by the fact that, although Caleb finds all sorts of weird and wonderful things on our floor, in 15 months he had never yet been able to find a pin!).

However, I'm afraid I can't make any such promises about loose threads. They are beyond help, and you are almost certain to leave with a loose thread attached somewhere. Consider it a souvenir of time spent in a house where baking is done in a dash, and cleaning is done in a flash, so that there is maximum time for sewing and other fun things, but where you are always certainly most welcome for coffee (and biscuits, if they didn't get burnt while I squeezed in another 10 minutes at the sewing machine)!

Bellybuttons and afternoon naps

My latest quilt is all quilted. I can't show you the full quilt just now, but just to tease you, that black circular stitching on the orange gingham in the second image is a bellybutton! I am loving gingham fabric as quilt backing at the moment. I think its quite playful.

I'm working to a deadline for this quilt so now I need to knuckle down and hand-stitch the binding as well as tie off all those threads. Only problem is, I know I'll fall asleep doing it. This baby is making me very tired, and I think I'm going to have to succumb to regular afternoon sleeps - a pet hate of mine, after all, I'd rather be sewing!